What is the difference between Class A & B Self-Retracting Lifelines?


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Content provided by Mike Kay, Director of Resource Safety Services (RSS)
RSS is an education and training division of Safety Products Inc


When we are dealing with SRLs, we have two main categories: Class A and Class B.  The main difference between these are fall clearance.  Fall clearance is the amount of distance that an SRL will allow you to fall before they stop you.

Class A SRLs
A Class A SRL will stop you within 17″ to 24″.  ANSI says 24″, but I promise you it is 17″ to 24″.  A great way to notice the difference when you’re dealing with a Class A, is that it doesn’t have a shock absorbing lanyard attached to it.  That’s strictly because a couple of reasons.  The test distance of 24″ and most importantly, the braking system that is manufactured inside them.  They normally have a double braking system, with each manufacturer having a slightly different pattern, but all-in-all, that’s what makes the difference in the ability to make sure you stop within 24″.

Why would you need a Class A?  That literally comes down again to fall clearance.  When you identify your fall protection situation and you look at the most critical aspect of fall clearance, you may find that a Class A SRL gives you the ability to meet that distance.

Class BClass B SRLs
Class B SRLs will stop you within 54″ and that is an ANSI test as well.  You will notice on a Class B, that they come with a shock absorbing lanyard, manufactured into the product itself, real important to know.

Leading Edge Situations
When you are dealing with a leading edge environment, it is really important that you look at the manufacturer’s specs of the SRL that you’re using.  Make sure it states that it is for a leading edge.  Whenever you are tying off below the waist or at foot level, all SRLs become a Class B, for the simple fact that there is an increased fall distance on the individual.

View our full product line up of Self-Retracting Lifelines.

In summary…
Class A:
Stops you within 24″

Class B:

Built in shock pack and stops you within 54″

Leading Edge:

Make sure that the equipment is tested for a leading edge environment and know that it is automatically considered a Class B.

I hope this information was helpful to your safety education and simple enough to be used as a tool box talk.  Please check back with us for more training videos and blogs, and reach out to us about any questions that you may have as well.

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